Sustainable Homes’ National Energy Study (NES) was a major study involving 500 homes, looking at ways to encourage residents to change energy behaviours. Homes from fourteen housing associations across England took part in the winter of 2013-14.
Participants’ energy use (gas and electricity) was measured every two weeks and feedback given. The study was built on four main ideas:
- that many peoples’ understanding of how they use energy is low – therefore tips for becoming more energy-efficient are not easily adopted
- habits are based around tasks (making tea, washing, cooking etc) and energy use is a by-product of these – so people don’t intentionally waste energy and believe they are all ‘average’ users
- behaviour change theories suggest that people are more motivated to change habits when compared to other people – rather than when being presented with bills and rational suggestions of what is more efficient
- not only that, but if they adopt habits to feel good about themselves (rather than simply to save money) then they will be more likely to adopt other socially-good behaviours
The study found people were more ready to adopt electricity-saving habits than gas-saving ones. Also that people who were already the lowest users (and therefore received the most positive feedback) were more likely to make additional savings than other groups.
There are many variables which contribute to how energy is used in the home. Part Two of the report, examines attitudes, demographics and energy use of three hundred participants in the National Energy Study.